Posts about internet

Data Furnaces: Free Heating, for Those with Fiber Internet

Data furnaces have arrived in the Netherlands offering free heating for those with fiber internet connections. Those running data centers spend a lot of money cooling them off or thinking of ways to keep cooling costs down Google Uses Only Outside Air to Cool Data Center in Belgium (weather should provide free cooling for all but about 7 days a year).

Nerdalize is offering an interesting engineering solution to this issue. Even better than eliminating cooling costs this idea will use the excess heat to warm people’s houses.

By placing high performance servers in homes Nerdalize creates highly distributed compute cloud without the overhead cost of conventional cloud and co-location solutions. This creates a triple-win where sustainable computing power becomes an affordable commodity, homes are heated for free and emissions are drastically reduced!

This structural cost advantage allows us to offer computing power that is up to 55% more affordable than major cloud-providers or co-location solutions whilst giving incredible performance.

The Nerdalize heater contains high-performance servers in the form of a radiator and allows for them to be placed in your home safely and secure. As Nerdalize covers the cost of electricity, the heat generated by computations, such as medical research, heat your home for free.

image of the Eneco eRadiator

The Eneco eRadiator

The installation of a server heater, the Eneco eRadiator, in the living rooms of five families at different locations in the Netherlands this month starts a field test of the units. The purpose of the test is to collect information on customer experience and to identify possible areas of improvement of the eRadiator.

Sign up on their website if you want free heating (Netherlands is likely the best bet but they may expand around Europe also, or even further).

Related: Google Lets Servers Stay Hot, Saving Air Conditioning CostsData Center Energy Needs

Loon – Balloon Enabled Internet

Project Loon, from Google:

The Internet is one of the most transformative technologies of our lifetimes. But for 2 out of every 3 people on earth, a fast, affordable Internet connection is still out of reach.

We believe that it might actually be possible to build a ring of balloons, flying around the globe on the stratospheric winds, that provides Internet access to the earth below. It’s very early days, but we’ve built a system that uses balloons, carried by the wind at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, to beam Internet access to the ground at speeds similar to today’s 3G networks or faster. As a result, we hope balloons could become an option for connecting rural, remote, and underserved areas, and for helping with communications after natural disasters.

Google testing out this system now in New Zealand. If they can get it to work they plan to use ballons to provide wireless internet access to hundreds of millions, or even billions, of people that don’t have access now. These ballons would float about 20 km above earth in the stratosphere (so well above where commercial airline traffic) and they are really working somewhat like to satellites.

Though ballons are much cheaper to put in place than satellites they also offer significant problems as they get blow around by wind (which is why they haven’t been used before and why Google is going to experiment to see if they can get it to work). The ballons will use solar power and be controlled by a mission control to move into different wind zones to position themselves.


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Gamers Use Foldit to Solve Enzyme Configuration in 3 Weeks That Stumped Scientists for Over a Decade

Gamers have solved the structure of a retrovirus enzyme whose configuration had stumped scientists for more than a decade. The gamers achieved their discovery by playing Foldit, a very cool online game that allows players to collaborate and compete in predicting the structure of protein molecules that I wrote about before: Foldit – the Protein Folding Game. You can download it, play, and help move our understanding forward.

After scientists repeatedly failed to piece together the structure of a protein-cutting enzyme from an AIDS-like virus, they called in the Foldit players. The scientists challenged the gamers to produce an accurate model of the enzyme. They did it in only three weeks.

This class of enzymes, called retroviral proteases, has a critical role in how the AIDS virus matures and proliferates. Intensive research is under way to try to find anti-AIDS drugs that can block these enzymes, but efforts were hampered by not knowing exactly what the retroviral protease molecule looks like.

“We wanted to see if human intuition could succeed where automated methods had failed,” said Dr. Firas Khatib of the University of Washington Department of Biochemistry. Khatib is a researcher in the protein structure lab of Dr. David Baker, professor of biochemistry.

Remarkably, the gamers generated models good enough for the researchers to refine and, within a few days, determine the enzyme’s structure. Equally amazing, surfaces on the molecule stood out as likely targets for drugs to de-active the enzyme.

“These features provide exciting opportunities for the design of retroviral drugs, including AIDS drugs,” wrote the authors of a paper appearing Sept. 18 in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. The scientists and gamers are listed as co-authors.

This is the first instance that the researchers are aware of in which gamers solved a longstanding scientific problem.

“The focus of the UW Center for Game Sciences,” said director Dr. Zoran Popovic, associate professor of computer science and engineering, “is to solve hard problems in science and education that currently cannot be solved by either people or computers alone.”

The solution of the virus enzyme structure, the researchers said, “indicates the power of online computer games to channel human intuition and three-dimensional pattern matching skills to solve challenging scientific problems.”

With names like Foldit Contenders Group and Foldit Void Crushers Group, the gamer teams were fired up for the task of real-world molecule modeling problems. The online protein folding game captivates thousands of avid players worldwide and engages the general public in scientific discovery.

Direct manipulation tools, as well as assistance from a computer program called Rosetta, encourage participants to configure graphics into a workable protein model. Teams send in their answers, and UW researchers constantly improve the design of the game and its puzzles by analyzing the players’ problem-solving strategies.

Figuring out the shape and misshape of proteins contributes to research on causes of and cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s, immune deficiencies and a host of other disorders, as well as to environmental work on biofuels.

Dr. Seth Cooper, of the UW Department of Computing Science and Engineering, is a co-creator of Foldit and its lead designer and developer. He studies human-computer exploration methods and the co-evolution of games and players.

“People have spatial reasoning skills, something computers are not yet good at,” Cooper said. “Games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans. The results in this week’s paper show that gaming, science and computation can be combined to make advances that were not possible before.”

Games like Foldit are evolving. To piece together the retrovirus enzyme structure, Cooper said, gamers used a new Alignment Tool for the first time to copy parts of know molecules and test their fit in an incomplete model.

According to Popovic, “Foldit shows that a game can turn novices into domain experts capable of producing first-class scientific discoveries. We are currently applying the same approach to change the way math and science are taught in school.”

Related: Letter on the discoveryAlgorithmic Self-AssemblyPhun Physics Software GameCool Mechanical Simulation System

Google Art Project – View Art from the Hermitage, the Met…

Google Art Project lets you view art from the Hermitage, Van Gogh Museum, the Met, Tate Britain, National Gallery and more museums around the world. The site lets you navigate the museum (similar to Google street view) and zoom in for very close looks at the the works of art.

close up of the Face of Venus, Birth of Venus by Botticelli

The image above is a close up view of the Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli. In the lower right of the image you can see the portion of the painting that this view is zoomed into.

You can create your own artwork collects, which is a cute feature. Unfortunately it is tied to the still incredibly broken Google ideas on social Internet applications. I find it amazing that a company that does so many things so well, can have such continuously bad ideas about social applications.

Related: Van Gogh Painted Perfect TurbulenceGet Your Own Science ArtMetropolitan Museum of Art photosMuseum of Modern Art photosArt of Science 2006

Getting Closer to a Universal Translator

I wrote the following to my friend yesterday

> for those that haven’t picked up English, pretty soon Google translate
> will do a decent enough job of imitating a universal translator
> through my cell phone to get by 🙂

And today my brother tweeted this video:

Ok, not quite a universal translator yet, but we are moving in the right direction.

Related: Aztec MathHolographic Television on the WayDroid IncredibleLego Mindstorms Robots Solving Sudoku and Rubiks Cube

Tool to Make Creating Android Applications Easy

I am skeptical this will be really useful but it is a good thing to try. I can believe we could get good tools to allow non-programmer to create simple applications – but I think it will take years to get decent tools. Try App Inventor for Android. I might have to try it myself.

I would image sure most of the applications created will be horrible. It certainly is different from Apples attempts to restrict developers of iPhone apps as much as possible. The move certainly seems to open the development of simple applications beyond those that “are thrilled when a computer reminds them they’re missing a bracket or semicolon” 🙂

Related: Arduino: Open Source Programmable Hardware4 and 8 Year Old Sisters Impress with SqueakApp Inventor for AndroidDroid Incredible

Fiber to the Home

A very simple overview of fiber to the home.

Related: Plugging America’s Broadband GapNext steps for Google’s Experimental Fiber NetworkNet Neutrality, Policy, Economics and Intelligent EngineeringHow Do You Fix an Undersea Cable?

Essentials of Genetics Website Reference

Scitable is a science library and personal learning tool on genetics developed by Nature. I must admit I am against the closed science stance Nature normally supports. But this is a good effort on their part at actually talking advantage of the internet to openly promote science. I imagine Nature will eventually more and more move toward supporting open science.

The website has a library of over 200 faculty-written, peer-reviewed articles on core concepts in genetics, plus a video-based online primer called Essentials of Genetics, glossaries, spotlights on key issues, and lots more high quality faculty and student resources.

Scitable is a great place to research and learn more about genetics topics such as diseases, evolution, genetics and society.

Related: Gene Duplication and EvolutionDNA Passed to Descendants Changed by Your LifeAnger at Anti-Open Access Press Strategy

Google Prediction API

This looks very cool.

The Prediction API enables access to Google’s machine learning algorithms to analyze your historic data and predict likely future outcomes. Upload your data to Google Storage for Developers, then use the Prediction API to make real-time decisions in your applications. The Prediction API implements supervised learning algorithms as a RESTful web service to let you leverage patterns in your data, providing more relevant information to your users. Run your predictions on Google’s infrastructure and scale effortlessly as your data grows in size and complexity.

Accessible from many platforms: Google App Engine, Apps Script (Google Spreadsheets), web & desktop apps, and command line.

The Prediction API supports CSV formatted training data, up to 100M in size. Numeric or unstructured text can be sent as input features, and discrete categories (up to a few hundred different ones) can be provided as output labels.

Uses:
Language identification
Customer sentiment analysis
Product recommendations & upsell opportunities
Diagnostics
Document and email classification

Related: The Second 5,000 Days of the WebRobot Independently Applies the Scientific MethodControlled Experiments for Software SolutionsStatistical Learning as the Ultimate Agile Development Tool by Peter Norvig

Google Social Circle Results

I haven’t paid much attention to this before: Google showing results based on your social network. In genera,l I think Google is doing great stuff. Their approach to profiles, buzz, search wiki, and social stuff in general however, I find poor (extremely poorly when I see how well they do so much else). They are too borg-like in their insistence you do things exactly as proscribed by them. They opt you in far to often, in the way they want – completely and with few, if any, options. They don’t provide good tools to let you manage your profile and connections. The Google profile itself is extremely lame.

It is very silly that they don’t let you create personas you want to use and let you use them as you want. They force you to use the Google account you are logged in as to access Google services as the profile used in Google searches. I don’t want or need the 2 tied together. And I would much prefer a way to switch between my personas by search (or buzz [though I dropped it because it was so inflexible] or whatever). I know which persona I want for a specific search. This seems like a very obvious thing lots of people would want to do. Google’s whole monolithic, one-very-rigid-size-fits-all social solutions don’t allow this. It is a fundamental flaw. Without fixing the flexibility of social services from Google I see them having trouble succeeding in that area. On the other hand much else of what they do is fantastic.

The way their search wiki stuff works is very similar: inflexible. They seem focused on do it how we want which is not, I think, the way most people want. Their social solutions are very all or nothing. They want people to behave how Google wants. For that reason after short attempts to try Google’s social efforts I give up. I keep hoping they will become more flexible and user friendly but keep being disappointed.

This is the network of connections Google uses to identify relevant social search results. It is based on a combination of the following:

  • Direct connections from your Google chat buddies and contacts (5)
  • Direct connections from links listed on your Google profile (0) such as Twitter and FriendFeed
  • Secondary connections (252) that are publicly associated with your direct connections
  • In addition to web pages from your social circle, posts from your Google Reader subscriptions may also appear in your social search results.

Google Social Search is a feature designed to help you discover relevant publicly-accessible content from your social circle, a set of online friends and contacts. The idea is that content from your friends and social contacts is often more relevant to you than content from strangers. For example, a movie review from an expert is useful, but a movie review from your best friend can be even better.

Related: Ideas for Improving Google (2006)Web search improvement (2005)Google Wave Developer Preview WebcastGmail FailureGoogle Should Stay True to Their Management Practicespost about Google, focused on management practices

See video on Google social search:
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Next steps for Google’s Experimental Fiber Network

Think big with a gig: Google’s experimental fiber

Universal, ultra high-speed Internet access will make all this and more possible. We’ve urged the FCC to look at new and creative ways to get there in its National Broadband Plan – and today we’re announcing an experiment of our own.

We’re planning to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the United States. We’ll deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today with 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. We plan to offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.

Next steps for our experimental fiber network

So what’s next? Over the coming months, we’ll be reviewing the responses to determine where to build. As we narrow down our choices, we’ll be conducting site visits, meeting with local officials and consulting with third-party organizations. Based on a rigorous review of the data, we will announce our target community or communities by the end of the year.

Of course, we’re not going to be able to build in every interested community — our plan is to reach a total of at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people with this experiment. Wherever we decide to build, we hope to learn lessons that will help improve Internet access everywhere.

This is another great idea from Google. Not only to push forward the much poorer internet connectivity those in the USA have than other countries but it will hopefully lead to some real engineering breakthroughs. And it is a smart move to increase Google’s potential income – a better internet experience (for users) will likely help Google quite a bit.

Related: Google’s Underwater CablesGoogle Server Hardware DesignChina’s Next Generation InternetNet Neutrality: This is serious

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